for conducting elections to the Lok Sabha is borne by the central government while states bear the expenses for conducting elections to state legislatures, when such elections are held independently.
“If a concurrent election to the Lok Sabha and a state legislative assembly is held, then such expenditure is shared between the two governments. Expenditure incurred on items of common concern to the Centre and state governments like expenditure on regular election establishments, preparation and revision of electoral rolls, etc, is shared on a 50:50 basis, irrespective of whether such expenditure is incurred in connection with elections to the Lok Sabha or state legislatures. Even if the election is for Lok Sabha, expenditure towards law and order maintenance is borne by the respective state governments only,” the ECI rules say.
This year, the limit on election expenditure incurred by a candidate for Parliamentary constituencies was raised to R70 lakh from R40 lakh in bigger states, while for smaller states and union territories, such as Arunachal Pradesh, Goa, Sikkim, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Chandigarh, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Daman and Diu, Lakshadweep and Puducherry, the expenditure limit would be R54 lakh against R27-35 lakh earlier.
The revision was done “due to an increase in the number of electors, polling stations as well as an increase in the cost inflation index”.
The enhanced expense limit comes in the wake of political parties making a strong pitch in this regard at recent meetings with top officials of the ECI. The parties had argued that the current limits were too meagre compared with the rise in prices on account of inflation. As per experts, the other reason for revising the poll limit is under-reporting by candidates. It is believed that most of the candidates declare barely half the expenditure they are allowed to incur by the ECI.
The CMS study says the decision to hike expenditure limits is one of the reasons why poll spendings are likely to touch the R30,000-crore mark this year. “Till recently, political parties used to spend more during elections. Now, the trend has changed with candidates in most cases spending more than the parties. Now where is this money coming from? It is coming from crorepati candidates, corporates and contractors,” CMS chairman N Bhaskara Rao told the media recently.
As per a rough, unofficial estimate, after the hike in poll expenditure cap, candidates in fray for 543 seats alone could spend nearly R4,000